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Canadian Abortion Statistics

Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in Canada.

Canadian Abortion Statistics: Facts and figures relating to the frequency of abortion in Canada.
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Nationwide abortion statistics for Canada are available from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Roughly one-third of Canadian abortions take place in hospitals, which are bound by mandatory reporting requirements. The other two-thirds take place in abortion clinics, which are not required to report to CIHI. Though most clinics report total abortions, they do not include as much demographic data as the hospital reports. The following information has been gleaned from CIHI abortion data and Statistics Canada birth data to provide an overview of the frequency and demography of abortion in Canada.

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ANNUAL ABORTION STATISTICS

  • In 2016, a reported 97,764 abortions took place in Canada, down from 100,104 in 2015 and 100,194 in 2014.
    2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
    97,764 100,104 100,194 102,446 100,958 108,844
  • In 2016, approximately 20.3% of all Canadian pregnancies (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ended in abortion. This is down from 20.4% in 2015, 20.6% in 2014, and 21.1% in 2013.*

    *CIHI abortion data is collected by calendar year. StatCan birth data is collected from July 1 to June 30. As such, annual abortion data is compared to birth data that was collected during the first six months of the calendar year and the last six months of the year before.

  • In 2016, the highest number of reported abortions occurred in Ontario (38,383), Quebec (23,393), and British Columbia (13,116). The fewest number of reported abortions occurred in Yukon (116), Nunavut (68), and Prince Edward Island (0).

WHO HAS ABORTIONS?

  • In 2016, 12.6% of Canadian abortions were performed on women of unknown age. Among the rest, 2.4% were performed on women aged 17 or younger, 54.5% were performed on women aged 18-29, and 43% were performed on women aged 30 or above.
    <17 years 18-24 years 25-29 years 30-34 years ≥35 years
    2.4% 27.0% 27.5% 21.8% 21.2%
  • In 2016, approximately 47% of the abortions that took place in Canadian hospitals were performed on women who had never given birth. Approximately 65% were performed on women who had no prior abortions.

When do Abortions Occur?

  • Among abortions performed in hospitals in 2016, 18.3% were performed on babies of an unknown gestational age. Among the rest, 39.3% were performed at or before 8 weeks gestation, 44% were performed between 9-12 weeks of gestation, and 3.3% were performed at 21 weeks or later.*
    ≤8 wks 9-12 wks 13-16 wks 17-20 wks ≥21 wks
    39.3% 44.0% 8.8% 4.5% 3.3%

    *Gestational weeks are measured from the first day of the woman's last menstruation and not from the day of conception. Though it does not provide an accurate fetal age (which is roughly 2 weeks less than the gestational age), it is the simplest way for an OB/GYN to age a pregnancy since the day of conception is often not known. Hence, if an abortion occurs at 8 weeks gestation, it is actually aborting a 6 week embryo. The images on our Prenatal Development and Abortion Pictures pages are more precisely captioned with fetal ages in accordance with standard teaching texts on prenatal development.

HOW DOES ABORTION TAKE PLACE?

  • In 2016, approximately 68% of Canadian abortions were performed in abortion clinics. The rest were performed in hospitals.
  • Among 2016 abortions performed in Canadian hospitals, approximately 94% were performed surgically.

ABORTIONS BY PROVINCE/TERRITORY

  • The table below indicates how many abortions took place in each province/territory based on both occurrence and residence. Since abortion clinics do not report a woman's area of residence, resident data is limited to those abortions that occurred in a hospital.
    Province/territory Abortions by Occurrence (2016) Abortions by Residence (2016)**
    Newfoundland and Labrador 978 149
    Prince Edward Island 0 162
    Nova Scotia 1,908 1,889
    New Brunswick* 827 682
    Quebec 23,393 7,915
    Ontario 38,383 9,937
    Manitoba 3,668 2,013
    Saskatchewan 2,082 1,887
    Alberta 12,948 1,739
    British Columbia 13,166 3,850
    Yukon 116 130
    Northwest Territories 277 215
    Nunavut 68 199

    *Abortion clinics in New Brunswick did not report abortion totals.
    **These numbers only include hospital abortions since abortion clinics did not report residence data.

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